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Engineering Alive: A Summer Camp For Middle School Students And Teachers

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Outreach: Future Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.475.1 - 7.475.8



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Paper Authors

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Elizabeth Parry

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Laura Bottomley

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Session 1692

Engineering Alive: A Summer Engineering Camp for Middle School Students and Teachers

Laura J. Bottomley, Elizabeth A. Parry North Carolina State University


Middle school is a crucial time for kids deciding on possible career paths. Especially in the state of North Carolina, kids are expected to have their career decisions ready by the time they enter high school, so sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are critical times for contact with the fields of engineering from a recruiting perspective. This paper describes a summer camp held in conjunction with Centennial Middle School in Wake County, North Carolina. The first week of the camp consisted of a teacher week, where teachers came to NC State University College of Engineering to work side by side with engineering faculty to plan and test camp activities. Additional enhancement experiences were incorporated to help provide ideas and enrichment for the teachers in other areas covered by their science, math and social studies goals. One long- term objective was that the teachers use some of the material they learned to change the way they teach various subjects during the school year. An evaluation was done six weeks after the camp.

During the second week of the camp, fifty middle school students came to the campus of Centennial Middle School. The camp was co-led by the middle school teachers, engineering faculty and some engineering students. Areas covered by the camp activities included generic problem solving, aerospace engineering (designing and building an airplane to fly), civil engineering (testing various building materials for earthquake resistance), and chemical engineering (studying the components and manufacturing processes of various consumer products—like diapers and cookies). Various competitions were integrated throughout the camp activities and an award ceremony was held at the end of each day.

Creative recruiting was used to ensure a diverse student population, but gender and ethnicity were not taken into account during the application process. The student population was one- third female and about one half underrepresented minorities. Student and parent evaluations were 100% positive.


Middle school has become the crucial time to connect with students about their future career choices. In many school districts, students are required to choose a “career path” when entering high school. While it is not impossible to change course midstream, it can be difficult. Therefore, middle school is where colleges must now concentrate their recruitment and outreach efforts in grades six through eight.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright (c) 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Parry, E., & Bottomley, L. (2002, June), Engineering Alive: A Summer Camp For Middle School Students And Teachers Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10112

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